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How to Build Your LinkedIn Network

Source: Sheila Scarborough

Last year entrepreneur and start-up director Michael O’Donnell penned an excellent post titled, “Why I Won’t Accept Your LinkedIn Invitation” that went viral.

O’Donnell receives more than six connect requests a day, so he’s got some good advice for what NOT to do to connect with someone like him, that is, a peer you don’t know personally, but are dying to be linked to.

It being the new year and all, it’s a perfect time to learn some tactics you can employ right now to grow your LinkedIn network.

  1. Include your own picture. That means no avatars, company logos, or pictures of your children, pets, or latest trending meme. Remember, this is a social business network, which still means putting a face to a name.
  2. Complete your profile. If you aren’t requesting to connect with the person sitting across from you or your old college friend, people will need to know where you work now, where you’ve worked in the past, your areas of expertise, etc.
  3. Get connections and recommendations. The former can be difficult when new to LinkedIn and the latter downright intimidating for those of us who have trouble tooting their own horn. But having no connections then asking to connect with someone important will scream “scammer.” First things first. Get colleagues, former classmates, and friends to connect with and endorse you before looking to connect with people you don’t know.
  4. Personalize your invites. If you send the default "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” email to a VIP, the chances they’ll hit “delete request” are high. Take a few moment to lay out why you want to connect with that person: some area of mutual interest or distant connection before hitting “send”
  5. Be truthful. If you don’t know someone, don’t lie and say you’re a former classmate or you’ve worked with them. That’s definitely getting the relationship off on the wrong foot.
  6. Pitch yourself, not your company and/or services. O’Donnell warns that if he gets an InMail sales pitch before someone asked for a connection invite, they’ll be ignored.
  7. Be yourself. Once you have enough connections (see #3) don’t say “yes” to everyone who has asked to connect with you, just to appear popular. Or call yourself a “(INSERT TITLE HERE) Guru” because you want to appear cool. LinkedIn is still about business, not about hype. Especially when you’re looking to connect with someone who could be important to your career.

Looking for more LinkedIn tips? Aside from Michael O'Donnell's article, we’ve got a few good ones as well!

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